Clinical Laboratory

A clinical laboratory is a laboratory where tests are done on clinical specimens in order to get information about the health of a patient as pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

Clinical laboratories are at the forefront of the personalized medicine trend. However, they are also targets for cost-cutting measures by payers, and increased regulation by CMS and FDA, making the industry a challenging one in which to succeed.

Laboratory medicine is generally divided into two sections, each of which being subdivided into multiple units. These two sections are:

  • Anatomic pathology: Units included here are histopathology, cytopathology, and electron microscopy. Other disciplines pertaining to this section include anatomy, physiology, histology, pathology, and pathophysiology.
  • Clinical pathology, which includes:
    • Clinical Microbiology: This encompasses five different sciences. These include bacteriology, virology, parasitology, immunology, and mycology.
    • Clinical Chemistry: Units under this section include instrumental analysis of blood components, enzymology, toxicology and endocrinology.
    • Hematology: This section consists of automated and manual analysis of blood cells.
    • Genetics is also studied along with a subspecialty known as cytogenetics.
    • Reproductive biology: Semen analysis, Sperm bank and assisted reproductive technology.

Credibility of medical laboratories is paramount to the health and safety of the patients relying on the testing services provided by these labs. The international standard in use today for the accreditation of medical laboratories is ISO 15189. Under their respective approaches to laboratory licensure and accreditation, many countries have legal requirements that medical laboratories must be accredited to ISO 15189. This is not true in the United States.

In the United States, there are federal and state laws that address the licensure and accreditation of medical laboratories. Accreditation is done by the Joint Commission, College of American Pathologists, AAB (American Association of Bioanalysts), and other state and federal agencies. CLIA 88, the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, also dictate testing and personnel.

In addition, many clinical laboratories have adopted quality management programs such as Six Sigma and Lean quality to improve clinical quality, reduce turnaround time, cut costs, and boost productivity. Lean and Six Sigma are both process improvement methodologies. At a very basic level, Lean is about speed and efficiency, while Six Sigma is about precision and accuracy, leading to data-driven decisions. Lean and Six Sigma methods are finding numerous applications in anatomic pathology laboratories and pathology group practices.

Florida Hospital Laboratory Team Prepared before Hurricane Ian

With Hurricane Ian approaching the west coast of Florida on Sept. 28, hospital laboratories in the predicted path scrambled to be ready for the worst. That was true at Tampa General Hospital, where the hospital’s clinical lab team went on high alert. …

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Labs Must Audit Their Cybersecurity Measures

CEO SUMMARY: While clinical laboratory managers and pathologists are aware of the risks of a data breach, they often assume that related protection measures are working as needed. That is a mistake. With the cost of healthcare data breaches on the rise, it is vitally important for l…

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Telemedicine Firms Offer Home Phlebotomy Service

CEO SUMMARY: Telemedicine provider Teladoc Health has announced new services for certain primary care customers that include at-home phlebotomy appointments. The move is evidence of the consumer demand for increased convenience and flexibility in their healthcare. Scarlet Health, a …

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Texas Lab Details Dual Accreditation Journey

CEO SUMMARY: In seeking dual accreditation for CLIA and ISO 15189, Advanced Diagnostic Laboratory of San Antonio adapted existing processes to meet accreditor expectations. The result was stronger staff empowerment to suggest improvements in quality, combined with increased recognit…

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Hospital Lab Outreach Taps On-Demand Testing

CEO SUMMARY: In this case study, clinical laboratory managers from Bryan Health in Nebraska explain how they expanded their lab outreach program to include direct-to-consumer tests. The project involved researching what tests were most appropriate without the need for a physician’…

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Balwani Guilty! Sentencing Is Next for Theranos Execs

CEO SUMMARY: The trial of former Theranos President and Chief Operating Officer Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani ended with convictions by a jury on 12 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy. Now all eyes are looking ahead to the sentencing of Balwani and Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and fo…

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Lab’s Anemia Program Brings in New Revenue

  CEO SUMMARY: In Philadelphia, Jefferso…

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OIG: 25% of Medicare Inpatients ‘Harmed in Hospitals’ Pre-COVID

CEO SUMMARY: This year’s report to Congress on patient harm in hospitals—prepared by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG)—determined that one in four Medicare beneficiaries suffered harm while an inpatient in a hospital. The report garnered little attention outside the he…

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Anticipating Change in COVID-19 Test Volume

CEO SUMMARY: New and more easily transmitted variants of SARS-CoV-2 are causing surges…

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PerkinElmer Says California Terminated COVID-19 Contract

ACCORDING TO A NEW SECURITIES FILING FROM PERKINELMER, the State of California served notice of termination of the company’s contract to run the beleaguered Valencia Branch Laboratory (VBL). PerkinElmer, a diagnostics firm based in Waltham, Mass., made the surprising announcement a…

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